The answer to the question in the title is probably the same as the opposite: how do you deal with living?
You don’t deal with it.
You just do.
No one knows their designated time to start living. We just do when we were born, coming out of the womb.
No one knows when one dies. We just do, when we no longer breathe.
No one knows when our dearly loved ones depart. We just know when we hear the news. And how we react to such news is not the exact answer of how we deal with death. How we react is how we choose to be.
And the choice I made today is to write this note. As nonsensical as this may sound to you, but this is how it is: inexplicable, undefined, and prone to misinterpretation.
But I do know one thing. Today, the seemingly innocent Saturday on a supposedly jovial long weekend, is unlike any other.
It started with the sudden recollection of a long departed old friend as I organized my wardrobe. Nothing but stacks of T-shirts from events, productions, workshops, talks, seminars, and their similarities. Exactly like what my late friend had back then in his wardrobe. So much that he had forgotten when was the last time he had gone to department store to buy new clothes.
It has been almost a decade since I heard the news of an unfortunate accident that cost his life. Once in a while, a lingering thought of missing him appears. Sometimes once every four months, sometimes once a year. But why it had to appear on the bright sunny Saturday like today, no one knows for sure.
Then I went for regular running, as fast as I could. As usual, the phone was put in airplane mode. The first message that flashed on screen as the phone got connected again was:
“Dear. Remember our friend that goes by the nickname X?”
“The X whose full name is XYZ who works in CDE and originally from the city FGH?”
“The city is actually EFG.”
“He passed away this morning.”
I just sat in silence.
We continued texting random words to each other, but they were mere alphabets aimed to convey silence.
We prayed, not entirely for the departed, but to console ourselves for not knowing how to cope with the loss.
And we keep on digesting the circumstance without ever knowing what to do next.
What I do know, for sure, that these two old friends probably did not remember me at the time of their death. You can say that I am almost certain of that. At each one of their death, I no longer communicated with them on regular basis. Just like many people that ever pass by in our life, sometimes we drift apart. Not caused by intentional separation, but the course of each of our life often leads us to not seeing old friends too often.
Yet, both of them, in their own way, have left indelible marks that caused me writing this note in two states I have tried avoiding today to no success: grieving, and mourning.
People react to the loss of their loved ones in different ways.
Some drown themselves in work.
Some run endlessly.
Some get high by dancing.
Some dismiss their sorrow by singing.
Some cry their hearts out in scream.
Some channel their sadness to cleaning the dishes.
I choose to write down this note in words. Words that run through my mind that speak nothing but how I miss them.
Words that they may never see in person anymore. Words that I never get to tell them myself. Words that you may think worthless, but words that serve as a reminder that there are always people who will leave lasting memories in us as they are no longer around.
They matter to us.
They were once part of our life.
They may not be present anymore, but their past with us will always be carried all the way to the future.
They will always be in our prayer once in a while.
They will be present as we stumble into small things that may not be a great deal at first.
They will be around in music we listen to, in pictures we look at, in words we read.
And maybe, how we deal with death is by living.
For in living and remembering, the dead ones will always be alive.